GRANITE FALLS — The Bush Foundation is awarding the Granite Falls community $1.8 million in honor of its native son Archibald "Archie" Bush. The award was announced Tuesday evening at the annual grant awards ceremony and donor appreciation event for the Granite Falls Area Community Foundation, which will direct the majority of the gift.
"We are humbled and grateful beyond words," said Granite Falls Mayor Dave Smiglewski in a news release. "This will truly be a game changer for the Granite Falls Area Community Foundation and will enable their good work to go further and reach more of our community's needs."
Of the total $1.8 million, Wallin Education Partners will receive $600,000 to fund scholarships for Granite Falls area students pursuing post-secondary education.
The remaining $1.2 million is designated to the Granite Falls Area Community Foundation, an affiliate partner of Southwest Initiative Foundation. One million dollars will seed The Archibald Bush Endowment Fund, serving as a permanent resource for the community. And $200,000 will establish the Archibald Bush Project Fund to address significant issues affecting the Granite Falls community in the near term, with projects to be completed by December 2020.
The investment honors Archie Bush's love for his hometown. Born and raised in Granite Falls, Bush dropped out of school in eighth grade to work on the family farm. In 1909, he joined Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M) as a bookkeeper for a salary of $11.55 per week. Together with William McKnight, Archie helped transform that little company into one of the largest and most innovative companies in the world: 3M.
Bush rose up to become the company's executive chairman. In 1953, he and his wife, Edyth, took $200 million worth of company stock accumulated during his career and established the Bush Foundation.
"There are so many superlatives — wonderful, amazing, exciting, awesome — to describe this gift to Granite Falls from the Bush Foundation," said Peggy Heglund, Granite Falls Area Community Foundation board chairwoman. "My goal is to promote public education so everyone knows who Archie is and what he previously accomplished for this community, in addition to this current and future impact. Our board is eager to begin moving forward with both the considerable enhancement to the endowment fund and the project fund."
Currently, the Granite Falls Area Community Foundation endowment holds about $220,000. Last year, its board awarded grants totaling $7,075 to projects including an oven at the Granite Falls Senior Center, new robotics equipment for Yellow Medicine East School District and support services to women to reduce the cesarean rate and increase the rate of breastfeeding.
"By significantly expanding the endowment fund, the Bush Foundation hopes that many more needs are met over the long term to make Granite Falls an even better place to work and live," said Anita Patel, leadership programs director for the Bush Foundation, who grew up in the Granite Falls area. "It's our hope that this grant will keep Bush Foundation staff close to Archie's Granite Falls legacy."
Southwest Initiative Foundation Community Philanthropy Officer Jeff Vetsch helped the local advisory committee work through the grant process.
"We're excited to see the possibilities as people in Granite Falls work to create their own positive change," he said. "We see time and again how our community partners are the spark that ignites local philanthropy and community involvement."
Inspired by the Bushes' desire to build their community and encourage innovation, the The Bush Foundation has invested nearly one billion dollars in grants to thousands of organizations and individuals.